Journal

Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn

Yesterday I took to the woods in the afternoon.  It’s the first week in about ten years when I don’t have any sort of schedule.  There is no work calendar hovering in the background, I’m not on vacation for a certain amount of time, there are no appointments to plan around.  I’m a free agent, at least for now.  So I did what I do when I can do whatever I want – I went to the woods.

Going to the woods is what I tend to do when I am feeling melancholy, unsure, anxious, or angry.  It’s a place to go when I’m grieving, wondering, lamenting, or stewing about something outside of my control.  Basically, going to the woods (or prairie, or ocean, or any other natural area) is healing.  It’s a place to go in celebration as well, but lately, its role in my days has been one of holding space for what needs to rise from the ashes of what has recently burnt away.  Continue reading “Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn”

Prairie Grown: From Calendar to Cookbook

About five years ago, I got the idea that it might be fun to make a seasonal calendar of farm photos for my family who had just ramped up their gardening game, offering a small CSA to the community and getting back into farmer’s market selling after some time away.  And then for awhile I thought that instead of a calendar, maybe I’d make it into some sort of pamphlet, or maybe put the calendar photos together with some anecdotes from my family plus a recipe or two and have them bound at the local printing store.  And then I thought, hmm, maybe I should add another story or two, and a few more recipes and be more intentional about what photos to include.  At that point my conglomeration of stories and recipes was starting to be a little book like and I thought, “Maybe it should be a book instead of a pamphlet.” But the thought of all the design work, plus trying to format and put the content together in a way that looked right that self publishing requires was daunting, and I put the idea down for awhile.  After another year went by, I picked the project back up and explored a hybrid publisher – they do the editing, design, formatting, and printing for you if they think your work is quality enough to have on their imprint.  The catch is that there’s a steep price tag if you are accepted…..they quoted me $5, 500 to complete the project.   Ha!  Back to the drawing board. Continue reading “Prairie Grown: From Calendar to Cookbook”

A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving time here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in.  There’s a war being waged on peaceful indigenous people and their allies in North Dakota, people who are continuing to stand strong to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed (and eventually poisoning the Missouri river watershed.)  People in high office in this country seem to have missed the history lessons that taught us about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the danger that lies in acting from fear, hate, entitlement, and greed. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, the dog is getting old.  There are many things to lament.  But we might do ourselves a favor and take a break from the lamenting to give thanks as well.  Gratitude is always possible. Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Continue reading “A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude”

A New Better Off: Living the Good Life

Courtney E. Martin, in her new book called The New Better Off argues that our society is moving away from what was once considered “the good life.”  For years, people said things like “well, I want my kids to be better off than I was,” and often times that meant hoping those kids got a steadier job, or a nicer/bigger house, or into a better financial situation.  But perhaps there’s a cost to putting all of life’s meaning under the old definition of “better off.”  In her introduction Martin says,

…what’s more, some of the things we have associated with success actually endanger our health [and leave us unhappy.] Underneath the appearance of uplift, a complex [success] story weighs us down. This could play out in a number of ways…like when people set aside authentic career ambitions in favor of more lucrative paths; or when a father knows his colleagues better than he does his own kids; or a mother leans in so hard she falls flat on her face.  Pressure and debt, missed get togethers, living for the weekend, living someone else’s dream. “Better off” left uninterrogated, can be fucking dangerous.

Continue reading “A New Better Off: Living the Good Life”

Make America Great Again

Recently America reclaimed its preference of having a rich white man as the president, and this time he is an outspoken millionaire business man turned reality TV star who unabashedly encourages bigotry, racism, sexism, and myriad other isms and things that can potentially lead to oppression, violence, and the glorification of hatred as a viable option for change.  People who did not vote for Mr. Trump feel everything from blindsided to sorrowful to angry to depressed to resigned to hopeless.  People who did vote for him [likely] feel everything from elated to vindicated to satisfied to safe to, I daresay,  confused.  I imagine that people everywhere, no matter how they voted, or even if they didn’t vote, feel the enormity of what has been brought to the surface in the last few days.  Mr. Trump got as far as he did in the election because he feeds into all of the insecurities that a large portion of Americans have, from unemployment to national security to big government.  He feeds the fears, and fear, when fed, grows without bounds.  Unprocessed fear allows people to act in ways they wouldn’t normally act, and brings out the parts that usually stay in the shadows.  And when you can invite someone who has been afraid into feeling safe and righteous instead, even if it means inciting violence and rage, and even if they don’t agree with some (or most) of what you stand for, often times, you win their loyalty.  Continue reading “Make America Great Again”

To Dance With Mountains

What would it be like to dance with mountains?  To sway with the majestic alpine wildflowers that dot the valleys, or to listen to the whisper of clear snowmelt as it cascades to lower ground over a bed of stones smoothed to perfection?  To kiss the pine needles, to breathe the scent of ancient bedrock mystery?  Or to walk in step with the peaks that have been stripped of life, or the valleys that have been clearcut and left for dead? The toxic rivers, the tundra fracked of life, the homeless topsoil that can’t hold on?  How do we love our failed expectations alongside our beautiful victories? How can our defeats, our poor choices, and our monsters co-exist with our grace, our goodness, and our love? How do we embrace them all and hear what they have to say?

Dance with mountains.
Continue reading “To Dance With Mountains”